July 31, 2012 by Alex Hoekstra
It’s no secret that I’m a big fan of the Maker movement. The definitions and taxonomy of various subgroups within the overarching “Maker” theme are still something I think I’m not alone in being hazy about – “biohackers” to “citizen scientists”, working in “fab-labs”, “hackerspaces” or “makerspaces”…some people just want a nice, tidy label. But I’ll explain to you what I believe unites them – what I believe is most important and what I believe in most: empowering the individual through networked collaboration and access to tools for investigation, exploration, creativity and production. That’s a bit of a mouthful, so I’ll try to break it down.
We’ve always been free to question. Since emerging from the caves, humans probably spent nights wondering about the sun and moon, the tides, the trees, the birds, the bugs, the buffalo and the next tribe over. We’ve been curious for a long time, but for too long, the ability to satisfy that curiosity, or at least try to, has been reserved as a luxury – for those with the tools to look for answers to all of our questions. Over the years, however, with the aid of lots and lots of disruptive innovations and exchanging and sharing ideas and resources, more and more people developed the capacity to investigate. Reading and writing seem pretty standard today, but before Gutenberg put books on every shelf, you could walk from town to town without meeting a handful of literate folk. With the advent of the internet in particular and of the networked infrastructure we’re still developing more generally, we’re now more capable – literate in more languages, as it were – to share in the exploration of not only our own questions, but questions we hadn’t even yet pondered. We’re asking better questions together, and each of us is now more able than ever before to look for answers. Today’s project is another tool for any of us to use to help satisfy the human curiosity that unites us all.
OpenROV is an open-source, remotely operated underwater vehicle. About the size of a shoebox and capable of diving up to 100 meters with all sorts of sensors, OpenROV lets you explore the open ocean for less than the cost of a seminar class on marine biology.
OpenROV is an open source robotic submarine designed to make underwater exploration possible for everyone. It’s also an online community of professional and amateur ROV (remotely operated vehicle) enthusiasts on OpenROV.com.
This project is steeped in Maker spirit – a child of the Maker mindset and a tool for the insatiably curious, access to corners of the world once reserved for big-budget operations (with big-budget risk-aversion mentalities holding them and everyone else down) will unravel mysteries we know about and discover mysteries we still don’t for anyone with enough curiosity to explore. Dive for sunken treasure, discover new marine life, track tidal patterns and get to know the ocean up close – projects like this turn you and I into explorers and scientists…well, I’m already a scientist, and maybe you are too, but you won’t need a diploma to join an army of researchers – independent and networked – in a quest to unlock mysteries beneath the waves. This project is going deep, and while there’s not much time left to get in on the first round of dives on Kickstarter, this movement is just beginning.